The NBPA and NBA can opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement after this season. To a lot of people on the outside looking, it seems ridiculous that the players or owners would want to have a work stoppage. After all, the NBA is one of the most stable leagues when it comes to CBA issues — at least compared to the NFL. The players are making a ton of money — see this summer’s free agent contracts –, the owners have a constant revenue stream with the new TV deal, and other issues such as player discipline aren’t a sticking point. There is still some fear that a CBA opt-out could lead to a work stoppage. Former Executive Director of the NBPA and currently the Director of Center for Sport Management at Seton Hall, Charles Grantham addressed some of those issues in a USA TODAY exclusive interview.
One of the bigger issues that didn’t come up during the last CBA negotiation is wearables and player data. Teams have the ability to track things we could never track before such as: heart rate, sleep patterns, reaction times, In the video above, Grantham talks about how the players do need to be aware of that. There is a fine line as to how much data an employer should have access to, especially when it comes to athletes. Monitoring health data that comes from wearable technology can feel like giving out personal information and personal freedom. There are concerns about media leaks as well. The debate will be how the players can control a limit access to information that the owners and front office want to see.
Grantham ends his discussion talking about the CBA opt-out. There should be caution because everything seems to be going along well. The players are making great money, the game is healthy, and an opt-out could slow down the NBA’s momentum. Well there still are issues. The players took a hair cut from 57-percent basketball related income (BRI) to 50-percent BRI. Once labor gives up that much revenue it’s tough to scrape it back. The players may think they deserve more, but its doubtful that number moves. The new concern may be the players trying to characterize different revenue streams as BRI.
The lack of smoothing when it comes to the new TV deal is also an issue. Small market teams no longer have advantages in keeping their own players — see: Durant, Kevin — and small market owners may want assurances they won’t lose talent. This could come in the form of something like the NFL franchise tag. Small market owners could be the fly in the ointment if there is an opt-out from the NBA side.
There’s still one season to figure this all out. The NBA and NBPA have too much at stake for there to be a work stoppage.